Sorry it’s been so long since I stopped in for a chat. This year seems to be ending on a rather frenetic note–weeks before the mad-dash to the holidays even began. This past month has been filled with doctor visits, extra errands, head colds, allergies, sick dogs and dying cats, new kittens, three birthdays, a trip to Texas, and Thanksgiving. And as soon as we got home from Texas, Thanksgiving barely over, the kids wanted the Christmas decorations up–to make it feel more like Christmas.
I haven’t been able to take a really deep breath of fresh, lazy air in over two months–feel like Christmas? Is that possible? I’m beginning to think I could blink twice and Christmas would pass right by without even a hint that it has been here; but I am just mushy enough that I will drag the boxes up out of the basement for my children. Even when they’re old enough to have kids of their own, I imagine if they request a house filled with decorations, I will do my best to accommodate.
Besides, most years I like decorating for the holidays. It usually gets me “in the mood.” Cranking up the holiday tunes, simmering a little cider on the stove to fill the air with the scent of Christmas, while gently unwrapping each precious “friend” from Christmases gone by, offers me time to slow down and focus on what’s really important about this–and all times–of the year. I love being able to take inventory of each ornament and decoration, lovingly collected over the years. My favorites are the Santas. At last count, I had over 50, including all the little Santas I have on the tree.
Santa has always been a personal favorite–his jolly, enigmatic self swooping down the chimney–I often didn’t have–to fill my stocking and place gifts I longed for under the tree each and every year. For many, I realize that Santa is merely a fat, jolly man in a red suit. For me, Santa is the embodiment of sacrificial giving. The personification of giving selflessly out of love for humanity–not because you deserve it, but because you are loved. He is a visual representation of the joyous, priceless gift God gave in sharing His son. A vivid and tangible reminder of the sacrificial gift my Savior gave on the cross. Somehow it made sense to the child-me, and the adult-me still embraces the heartwarming sentiment it conveys. Told you I’m mushy!
But this year, as I lined all my Santas up on the table in order to decide how to display them–I am not one of those who has ONE way to decorate each and every year; every year I feel my way through to a new creation within my home, moving things to different areas and displaying them in different ways as I feel led–I felt compelled to be SIMPLE this year. My heart was telling me that 53 Santas was entirely TOO many Santas for my overwhelmed brain/emotions/life to handle. In my mind’s eye I could see a simple, serene and wholly pleasing home, comfortable and peaceful…and simple. I tried. I really tried. Somehow the simple masterpiece I had created in my mind just wasn’t happening in real life. I even tried leaving most of the Santas in the box while rearranging just a few in strategic locations in order to keep from being distracted, but even this technique left me flustered and no where nearer my goal of a decorated home.
I promised myself to take my time, enjoy the process, so I spent snippets of time throughout three days, glancing at this Santa or that glass ball and placing it on this table or that mantle. After three long days of living with boxes, tissue paper, garland, snowmen and Santas strewn throughout my home on every possible surface–like a department store vomiting its Christmas displays all over my living room, dining room and kitchen–I decided to take one entire day to knock it out completely, just get it finished and put myself out of my own misery. Power decorating at its finest–just about killed me!
By mid-afternoon of this power-decorating day, I was overwhelmed, overwrought, overworked, and way over-stressed. The sight of all my precious Santas was making me physically and emotionally ill. And, what was even worse, I was no closer to having them put up and the job finished than I had been when I started four days before! So I did what any self-respecting decorator would do…I checked my email! To be fair, I hadn’t checked it all day, and thought it would be a good diversion–actually, it was. There was a notice from one of the blogs I read saying there was a new posting, so I decided to sit down and read it. Her words, as usual, brought me back to reality and suddenly, my Santa-frazzled brain calmed down and focused. Truly focused, on what is truly important–the Light of the World made flesh. The coming of a Child to save a dark, lonely world. Not the Santa…but the Savior.
I read, and then reread, the lovely article by Ann Voskamp in her blog, A Holy Experience, and somehow so much of the stress I had been feeling for weeks began to relax its grip on my heart. I realized that it wasn’t all the Santas that were driving me crazy, but the craziness of my life these past several weeks that was slowly beginning to drain me of energy and contentment. I was allowing the little stressors to take precedence over the joy of living. I was focusing on the myriad little things this world throws at us all, instead of focusing on the One thing that truly matters. The One thing that gives purpose to life, brings joy to sorrow, brings peace to pain. I read this blessed little post, went and had an invigorating workout with my workout buddy, then arrived back home refreshed and ready to accomplish the task that had haunted me for days.
The Santas are now in place–most of them still in their boxes waiting for next year–a chosen few are now gracing my mantle and my china cabinet, right next to my other reminder of what this season is all about–my nativities. Because, for me, without the Christ Child, Santa is simply a fat, jolly man in a red suit.